Two Behind.

I've had two more lessons with Katy, but due to her schedule won't have another until the beginning of November.  This is going to be a brief-ish recap because of brain farts, but I want the overwhelming message to be a) how fucking instrumental professional help is (ha ha) and b) my dollar pony is worth millions.  (We're at least gonna try upping his insured value..)

Whiskey and I worked hard on our homework from our previous lesson of getting him to move that right shoulder and also to be more responsive to my leg.  I think both will be a perpetual work in progress, but by the second lesson we were more focused on forward and introducing contact.

But the first thing my trainer did was switch his low-port kimberwicke (sans chain) with one of hers.  Whiskey immediately loved it, but Katy told me to trial it for a week before I dropped the money on his own.

And she adjusted the Micklem.
So the big take away from the second lesson with Katy was pushing Whiskey forward into the contact and not letting him talk me out of maintaining it.  Also, keeping a feel in my outside rein.  She would simply say, bring your right elbow back, and Whiskey would literally drop his llama nose and lift his back.  Fucking magical.

Artist's rendition of before-right-rein.

Katy also gave us guidelines for our work at home, as she said that both of our fitness levels need to improve.  No other statement has resonated with or inspire me more than this:  When you get tired, your cues get crude.  He definitely doesn't deserve that, so the impetus is on me to improve myself for him.

Artist's self-portrait of five minutes of work.

At the most recent lesson, I convinced a friend to come with.  Katy and the friend immediately hit it off, because they're both from the midwest.  Guys, I can't even tell you where the midwest is.  

This time, Katy set up some poles for us.  

The first go around, my friend and her horse (who is amazing), just trotted through in a nice straight line, nbd.  Whiskey and I followed, like drunken pirates, wobbling this way and that.  It wasn't pretty, or straight, but he didn't fall on his face.  Win.

Then Katy set up some little red cones.  If you knock a cone, you have to bring her baked goods.  She said she was more concerned about Whiskey (and the edibility of my baked goods), but my friend actually knocked a cone instead!

...obviously drawn to scale.
After working on that serpentine until we could both kinda-sorta do it, Katy had us graduate to the arrowheads, aka a four-circle serpentine.  I actually really, really enjoyed this exercise and totally plan on incorporating it at home.  Not only are you circling, changing direction, changing post, changing bend, keeping contact, moving the damn horse forward, but you've got to hit the center of the arrow.

On top of all this, we worked more on pushing Whiskey.  She said it's going to be ugly right now, but that he has to build his neck so he can lift his back.  So my job is to maintain him moving forward, but keep the contact low and wide and steady.  He wiggles, my hands follow.  Lots of breaks to praise and let him stretch out.  I don't wanna jinx myself...

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  1. Sounds like a great and fun lesson! I love instructors that use exercises like that with props (cause otherwise I can't navigate well haha) to keep everything interesting. It definitely keeps it more fun than getting stuck on a 20 meter circle for half an hour

  2. Sounds like we’re working on the same stuff in and out of the saddle! Cool recap! Yay Whiskey!

  3. I love that you plucked him from a field and have turned him into a legit boss in no time. #hero

  4. Love the drawings SO much! You and Whiskey are so inspiring!

  5. Getting pro help can make all the difference!

  6. Those exercises look/sound awesome.